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76 posts categorized "Rennes Language"

Mont Saint-Michel and Dinan - Leslie E.



France has left me speechless since I first stepped foot in this beautiful country. If you didn't think it could get any better than the galettes of Bretagne or les petites maisons à colombages, than you definitely haven't visited the historical Mont Saint-Michel and the medieval town of Dinan. That is exactly what the participants of CIEE had the fortunate opportunity to do aujourd'hui.


We departed for Mont Saint-Michel early this morning, and arrived around 9 am. From afar, before even taking the passenger bus to the actual site, we could all see its beauty. It was something très unique. Upon finally mounting the steep pathway to the abbey's interior, we could really see the beauty of the numerous chapels and alleyways of Mont Saint-Michel. In fact, each student was given a personal audio device by which we could guide ourselves through the small corridors and bit-by-bit learn several new things about the period of the Middle Ages and the history of the monks of Normandy.

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After our guided tours, we had the opportunity to eat our lunches and enjoy walks through the narrow, yet adorable, alleys that were once occupied by medieval officials and had-working villagers. It was as though we'd gone back in time to the rough Middle Ages; our curiosity seemed to be at its peak.



Our next stop was Dinan, yet another medieval touristic site that attracts hundreds of visitors each year. We found ourselves surrounded by tall stone walls that once protected a whole town from the imminent danger of war. Our tour guide did a pretty amazing job at helping us comprehend what life was like at the time, going so far as telling us how life has changed in la ville since then. CIEE participants, as well as program leaders (of course) took some time to really discover for ourselves the beauty of the streets of Dinan, taking beaucoup de photos and even enjoying some delicious ice cream. 



All in all, this was such an exceptional day. I'll never forget my visit to the one-of-a kind Mont Saint-Michel and the exquisite Dinan. C'était magnifique!


Thank you CIEE!


Leslie E.

Le Musée de Beaux Arts de Rennes

On Tuesday for our Into the Community activity, we got to tour the Musée de Beaux Arts de Rennes -the Fine Arts Museum. Although it is smaller than many of the famous art museums in Paris, it has a diverse collection of realist, impressionist and modern art. There is even a Picasso painting there, as well as several mummies!

First, we discussed how painters mixed their pigments and created some of the amazing chefs d'œuvres (masterpieces) that we saw. Our guide was very knowledgeable and told us about the processes that the artists used and showed us a few of the paintings in the museum's collection.



Next, students worked with a partner to complete a questionnaire about their favorite work of art in the building. Students had a wide variety of preferences.



Finally, students had time to explore the museum's collection on their own (and with the program leaders!) 






Comme d'habitude, students had some time after the ITC activity to hang out in the city before they headed back to their houses. Some students went hunting for souvenirs, while others had a quick snack since it is customary for French people to eat dinner at 8 or 9 pm! Everyone was instructed to get a good night's rest though since Wednesday is our first excursion to Mont-Saint-Michel and the ancient village of Dinan!

Week 1: Life in Rennes


Diving into a new culture with different norms and rules has undoubtedly been eye-opening so far. Adjusting to life in a different culture can be nerve-wracking, terrifying, and embarrassing, but I can say with certainty that it’s been the most exciting experience I’ve been through in my life. I certainly cannot wait for these next few weeks as my entrance into the French culture here in Rennes is only just beginning.

The first couple days of this program were challenging to say the least. It was difficult for me to comprehend that I was actually in another country all by myself. Gaining so much independence was very hard for me to grapple with, and the fact that I was surrounded by a whole new culture only worsened my feelings. Luckily, though, I quickly realized that the people around me would be the perfect support team to help me get through the “culture shock” I was experiencing.

Though our initial meeting was a bit awkward due to a mix of fatigue and shyness on my part, my host mom has been nothing short of spectacular. She’s kind, caring, and is always willing to help me when I’m unsure with my French. Moreover, I’ve loved meeting the other students on the trip as I’ve made some of the most wonderful friends who are just as excited to be a part of this program as I am. Similarly, the program leaders as well as my teacher in class have all been amazing and have helped me get through the leap from American culture to French culture.

As far as first impression go, this past week has proven to me that being part of this program will be quite a rewarding challenge. Class can get difficult sometimes because it can become hard to keep up with the language at such a fast speed, but I already know that I’ll grow so much as a French student as a result of this. Being part of this program also makes everything I’ve learned at school in the United States feel a lot more real. It’s one thing to know the isolated vocabulary words and use them in class, but it’s another thing entirely to have to use everything you’ve learned about the language in a real-life setting on a daily basis.

In summary, this past week, while definitely challenging, has only made me more excited for this program to continue!


Here's a picture of the street I'll be living throughout the duration of the program



Here's a picture of me and my friends at a local café (I'm on the right)

-Elena M.

'Global Navigator Voices' is a collection of blog articles and pictures by our very own high school study abroad participants. Follow their adventures before, during, and after their experiences abroad!

Nous Sommes Arrivés!

Well, here we are!

This is my first week in Rennes, and it has been nothing if not eventful. The first day was left open to us to meet with our host families, get to know them, and generally settle in. My host parents found me quickly, and we talked for a bit at the airport before leaving to their house. What I took the most notice of was that it takes a quick minute to get acclimated and comfortable having dialogue in French, but after a while you just sort of ease into it. My host parents have been really nice about repeating phrases, describing things I don’t understand, and speaking slowly with me. Hearing their three younger children speak with each other was a bit of a shock as well because of how rapidfire it sounds. I get by better with the parents than the kids, probably because the adults have met more foreigners and have worked around language barriers before. To my own surprise, I’ve been able to talk about a reasonably wide range of topics with the parents just by talking around the words I don’t know, albeit a bit slower than I’d like. My goals for this week are to think quicker on my feet and pick up more vocabulary and common French phrases.

I think these first few days have been a little more about culture and getting into a groove, which has been helpful. I’ve gotten the hang of the subway/bus system pretty easily, but then again I’m used to a far more complicated public transit system in Chicago. Orientation day taught us a lot about some common culture shock pitfalls (who’d have known the French don’t walk around barefoot or leave lights on in other rooms?), which have proven helpful. The warning about les bises (the cheek kisses the French do upon meeting instead of a handshake) was a bit too late though, hahah. One of the most surprising things about this first week, though, was how much American culture is shared here: the buses play radio stations with songs in English, the movie theater plays films that are often dubbed or in English with French subtitles, and it seems like everybody knows at least a little bit of Anglais. It really is a unique experience to be American travelling abroad. I know that if a French student came to Chicago, they wouldn’t be able to find movies or songs in their native language at all.


I got to talk to a lot of my classmates while waiting for our oral interviews, and I’ve found that everyone in the program is equally happy to be here and excited to get to know one another. Our sense of community already feels strong, likely due to our guaranteed shared interests and goals for our time here. The oral interviews confirmed our placements in our classroom levels, but we’re apparently allowed to switch up or down if we feel like we’re improving until the second week. My teacher goes by her first name and lets us use tu-toi, the informal pronouns in French. The classes are small, with four groups of 12, so it feels very intimate and all around there isn’t a ton of pressure. We’re just getting started with activities and weekly projects/presentations, and I like the atmosphere a lot. As opposed to a French class at school, where some people are there just to fulfill a credit, everyone in the room here is trying their best to learn. You get out what you put in, so everybody is putting in a lot.

After each morning class, there’s time to get lunch, and then return to a given rendezvous point for an activity or another round of classes. Each week, we have a set amount of “Into the Community” time, where we have to approach strangers to ask for things like directions or their favorite restaurants. In a relatively small city like Rennes, people are for the most part approachable. Obviously, this kind of activity is something I’d never have gotten the chance to do back home or really in any language class. Talking to strangers in English is a bit out of my comfort zone, so in French it’s even harder, but there’s definitely value in having genuine conversations with native French speakers on a regular basis.


Of course, I think it’s natural to go through feelings of being overwhelmed or that the tasks are impossible every once in awhile. I’ve definitely had those thoughts, but there’s a lot to reassure me, too. For one thing, the length of the program is four weeks: one week in, I’m already almost halfway there, but at the same time, I have a whole three weeks left to improve. Four weeks feels like the right amount of time to be manageable, while also being enough time to learn a lot. And of course, with every wave of doubt comes a resurgence of pride when I manage to order my lunch in French, or talk with my host family about the TV shows we both watch.

So, for week one, I think it’s been going pretty well! I get along great with my host family, and I feel like I’m already picking up a lot just by having to think through French all the time. In any case, I’m getting by, and I’m happy to be here. Until next week -- au revoir!

-Sarah T.

'Global Navigator Voices' is a collection of blog articles and pictures by our very own high school study abroad participants. Follow their adventures before, during, and after their experiences abroad!

When in Rennes...

Greetings and happy Bastille Day from Rennes! We had a jam-packed couple of days preparing for our three day weekend! 


On Wednesday, it drizzled a bit but we didn't let that slow us down. We caught some great live music in the Place de la Marie while we were waiting for our Into the Community activity to begin.



There is nothing quite like dancing in the rain!




After the impromptu concert, students set off to ask locals where they could go to send a postcard home, get a great cup of coffee or replace their metro card if it was lost. They took a few minutes to strategize with their partners...




...they were off! One group even asked the musicians that we had been listening to for directions.




After getting suggestions, students recorded their information on their maps, and most stopped for a crepe or a galette before returning to show us what they had found.




On Thursday, students presented their first projects in class since they have tomorrow off for la fête nationale. We were very impressed with their presentations!



Many students are travelling this weekend with their host families. Stay tuned for some guest bloggers to make an appearance next week!

Exploring Rennes

On day 2 in Rennes, students spent some time in the classroom and then starting exploring their new city. On day 2, students spent the morning in class and then we went to the Place St. Anne where everyone chose their own restaurants to eat at. The sandwicherie was a very popular choice.



The desserts were especially tempting!




After everyone chose their food à emporter (to take away), we all went to eat lunch at the Parc du Thabor. It was very scenic and since it was a little drizzly out in the morning, we had the place to ourselves! 



After lunch, we went on a Rallye de 5 sens where students used their 5 senses to learn more about the history and culture of the city. They used sight to find ancient symbols of Bretagne in classical architecture and to locate the old drawbridge entrance to the city on a map...


They used smell to identify typical Rennais cuisine.... the caramel smelled a lot better than the sardines!




And they used touch to identify important building materials...


We also got to taste a delicious pastry that can only be bought at one specific bakery in Rennes, but this photographer was a little too preoccupied with the cake to remember to take pictures! 


We are having a blast in Rennes! More to come soon...



Bienvenue à Rennes!

Bonsoir, tout le monde! After a long day of travel, all of the Session 2 Rennes-agades have arrived! Students came from all over the U.S and after a long day of travel, everyone was excited and nervous to meet their host families at the airport.




After getting to know their host families over a home-cooked meal and some much needed sleep, we spent the day today in orientation. For lunch, we ventured to un restaurant bréton and most students got their first introduction to the metro. It's pretty simple because there is only one line! 




Tomorrrow, classes begin and we will explore one of the most beautiful parts of Rennes- le Parc du Thabor! Check back soon!



Our Last Excursion and week in Rennes

Our last week of the program flew by! First we had our full weekend excursion in the western part of Bretagne. Our first stop was the quaint town of Pont Aven. It is known for its famous cookies and many artists, including Paul Gauguin, spending time there because of its beauty.


Next we headed to Quimper where we enjoyed a tour of the city and its renowned cathedral which has stained glass windows dating back to 1417!


We stayed the night in Concarneau, a lovely coastal town. Students loved being able to sit on the rocks and watch the sunset, or just relax and enjoy the sounds of the ocean. We were also able to check out the fortress in the city that was also impressive.



On Sunday, we made our way to Locronan, a beautiful celtic-esque city in Bretagne. 


After lunch, we headed to Château de Trévarez which was built in the late 19th century. It was bombed during World War II because the Nazis were occupying it. We were still able to enjoy it's beautiful grounds and explore parts of the interior. 


After our weekend trip, the adventure continue with some canoeing, kayaking, paddle boarding, and rafting! Fun was had by all who participated. We went home very wet, but very happy.


On Tuesday, students had to do a Human Scavenger Hunt. They had to talk to French people all around town and ask them many different things in order to get points. We had two teams that came back at the same time with all of the questions answered. Way to go!


Then we went bowling!


Lastly, on Wednesday we had an incredible hip hop dance class. We were all too busy dancing to take pictures, but he's a group shot with our instructor.



Meet Your Session 2 Program Leader: Emily Seaman

Bonjour! Je m'appelle Emily and I will be one of the program leaders in Rennes during Session 2. I live and teach French 2 and 3 in Houston, Texas. In addition to teaching, I work in the Conservation Education Department at a zoo.


I love to travel- in fact, I just got back from my brother's wedding in China yesterday! I have traveled frequently in France and Europe, but I have never been to Rennes. I can't wait to explore and learn more about the city with all of you! 

When I am not working or travelling, I enjoy knitting, attending Broadway musicals, doing trivia nights and playing with my dog, Apollo.



À très bientôt!


Meet your Session 2 Program Leader: Caroline Hocutt

Bonjour! Je m'appelle Caroline Hocutt. I currently teach French 1 through French 6 at Mooresville High School in North Carolina, where I work with an awesome and supportive group of people.  I am very excited to meet everyone in our program, and I am also excited to help the kids navigate France, a country that I happen to think is pretty amazing. I have been speaking french since I was 6 years old, and I have lived there for some time so I am very excited to be going back with the new generation of French Language Learners. 

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